Dorian Gray Theme

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Josh Nitz
April 16, 2012
Professor Anders
Response #7
Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde’s fictional piece The Picture of Dorian Gray is a wonderful story that provides insight on the effect that sin has on the soul. In the beginning of the story Dorian is a kind hearted man, but by the end he becomes a cold blooded murderer who thinks only about himself. The ending is also very interesting in the sense that although Oscar Wilde escaped suspicion, revenge from James and those who could put his pursuit of pleasure in jeopardy, Dorian could not escape himself. This is the theme that really stuck with me. Dorian pursued pleasure with complete disregard for his soul or his conscience and in the end it led to his lack of pleasure and death.

Dorian Gray originally is a noble character that genuinely cares about others. We see this in his good nature and love for Sybil the actress. Unfortunately Lord Henry’s philosophy on life corrupts Dorian. Lord Henry states that pleasure is the only thing worth living for and that “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.” While these things that are said are immoral and ethically wrong, Basil hints that Lord Henry is not as a bad as Lord Henry makes himself out to be. Unfortunately Dorian does not see this and his pursuit of pleasure leads to his demise.

Basil’s painting represents Dorian’s soul. The painting starts out beautiful and depicts Dorian’s good heart and other-centric personality. However, when Dorian abandons Sybil for selfish reasons the painting begins to lose it beauty and becomes corrupted as Dorian’s soul does. Dorian disappears for years and comes back from years in the pursuit of pleasure. Oscar Wilde does not tell us individual sins that Dorian has committed and in doing this he allows the reader to fill this void with their own...
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